Status and trends of pelagic prey fishes in Lake Huron, 2012

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The USGS Great Lakes Science Center (GLSC) conducted acoustic/midwater trawl surveys of Lake Huron during 1997 and annually during 2004-2012. The 2012 survey was conducted during September and October, and included transects in Lake Huron’s Main Basin, Georgian Bay, and North Channel. Pelagic fish density (638 fish/ha) was lower in 2012 compared to 2011, with density in 2012 only 34% of 2011. Total biomass in 2012 was 74% of the 2011 value. Alewife Alosa pseudoharengus remained nearly absent, and only one cisco Coregonus artedi was captured. Rainbow smelt Osmerus mordax density was only 31% of the 2011 density. Bloater Coregonus hoyi density was less than half the 2011 density, mostly as a result of lower density of small bloater. Density and biomass of large bloater in 2012 were similar to 2011 levels. During 2012 we observed significantly higher fish biomass in North Channel than in the Main Basin or Georgian Bay. Prey availability during 2013 will likely be similar to 2012. Lake Huron now has pelagic fish biomass similar to that observed in recent lakewide acoustic surveys of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, but species composition differs in the three lakes. There is an increasing diversity and prevalence of native species gradient from Lake Michigan to Lake Superior, with Lake Huron being intermediate in the prevalence of native fish species like coregonines and emerald shiner Notropis atherinoides.

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Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Other Government Series
Title Status and trends of pelagic prey fishes in Lake Huron, 2012
Year Published 2012
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s) Great Lakes Science Center
Description 14 p.
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